Setting one foot carefully in front of the other, Lotor traversed the narrow ledges that made up a dangerous walkway between windows. He had to cling to the stone wall, carefully maintaining his balance. He couldn’t afford to slip, one misstep and he would tumble downwards, past the cliff and into the lake below. Such a fall would surely kill him, and yet he couldn’t stay away.
Lord knows he had tried, Lotor thinking to himself that he would be able to manage one night away from his mate’s side. But instead of sleeping, he found himself pacing, walking an endless line back and forth across the length of the room they had given him. He kept thinking about Allura, remembering how it had felt to sleep with her cuddled close to his body. His arms longed for the feel of her in his embrace, and he wanted to sink into dreams with the scent of her in his nose.
He lasted little more than an hour before Lotor found himself slipping out his window, the night’s chill breeze ruffling his hair all about his face. He kept a careful eye out for any potential voyeurs, Lotor not wanting anyone else to learn of his late night visits to Allura’s room. So far he had seen none, and nary a light was on, everyone quick to go to bed.
Stepping over a gap between ledges, he inched his way to Allura’s room. The window was open, curtains billowing inside it, carrying her sweet scent to him. He had to fight not to breathe more deeply of it, Lotor not wanting to get distracted until he was safely inside the room.
Gripping the sides of the window, he lowered his feet to the bedroom floor, his eyes seeking out Allura in the darkened room. She was not in her bed, and that surprised him, Lotor stepping deeper into the room. He relaxed when he spied her dozing in a chair that had been pulled up near to the window. She was just out of the path of the breeze, a blanket covering her from the waist down.
Even with the blanket, she looked cold, Lotor walking towards her, and moving to cover her more fully with the blanket. When he bent over her to brush a kiss against her forehead, she woke completely, eyes fluttering open. She smiled at him, the expression dreamy. She became more alert when she realized he was really there, Allura lifting her hands to touch his arms.
“I can’t believe you’re here.” She said, and Lotor smiled.
“Nothing would have kept me away.”
“Did anyone see you? Was my cousin spying?” Allura asked, and Lotor shook his head.
“I saw no one.”
“Are you sure?” Allura wanted to know. “You didn’t notice anyone last time, but Romelle certainly saw you!”
“I wasn’t as careful as I was this time.” He assured her, knowing he had been in too blissful a state to pay much attention to his surroundings when he left Allura that morning. Allura wasn’t mollified by his words, actually frowning at him.
“Maybe you should return to your room….just in case.” She seemed to shiver, and it had nothing to do with the cold this time. “I wouldn’t put it past Romelle to go get Nanny this time.”
“I just got here!” Lotor protested, and couldn’t resist teasing her. “And I think deep down you want me to be here. Why else would you leave your window open on such a cold night?” She flushed a pretty pink color, and it was then Lotor knew for certain she had left it open on purpose. It was a blatant invitation, one that warmed his body, Lotor grinning wider.
She kept her eyes lowered, still pink in embarrassment as she talked. “Did you have your talks with that mysterious leader of the Drule defectors?”
He held back a sigh, his mood sobering as she successfully changed the subject. “Yes. Turns out it’s one of the generals that had been under my command here on Arus.”
“Ah. Do you trust him?” Allura asked, and Lotor shrugged.
“I trust that his hate for Morduck is real. This General was never shy in making his dislike for the man known. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s offering to help me purely out of spit for Morduck gaining a position of power over him.” Lotor grumbled. “But if it will help our cause in the war, I don’t see why I can’t use this man back. But the real deciding factor will come in the battles, and if my supposed supporters take over the ships.”
“What would happen to them if they do that?” Allura asked. “I mean, I know they will be branded traitors of your kingdom. So where do they go from there?”
“That’s the thing. They’ll have little choice but to unite to support me in a bid for the Doom throne. It would be their only chance to be able to return to their home world and not be executed.”
Her eyes had gone wide at that. “They risk a lot, in supporting you and Arus then.” She seemed to fidget, fingers playing with a thread on the blanket. “Will a thousand soldiers be enough to help you win the throne from your father?”
“Oh, I’m sure that seems like a high number to you. But you have to understand, we have people spread out on many worlds. A thousand is really just a drop in a bucket compared to the might my father will gather.” He saw her grow upset at that, Lotor hastening to reassure her. “Of course, I have no doubt we will be able to drum up more support from other worlds…That will be the early stages of this battle….The General and my supporters finding other like-minded individuals…”
“Arus won’t be safe so long as your father sits on the Doom throne…” She whispered, looking pale now. Allura saw his hesitation, and sighed. “I’m right, aren’t I?”
“It looks that way. But if I can make enough trouble for him, he might not get a chance to turn his attention back to your planet.” Lotor told her.
“Arus isn’t used to wars…And we’re certainly not prepared to be besieged with constant attacks…it might not be my place to offer but…perhaps Arus can back you as well. We’d have to split our forces, leave some of the military here to guard our world, but when the time came….I would not be against sending you aid against your father.”
He was stunned by her offer, Lotor staring at her for a long moment. “Allura…that would help out greatly. But are you sure? If we lost to Zarkon, it would leave Arus with only half it’s defenses. And I’ve no doubt he would come to finish the invasion….”
“It’s a risk I’d be willing to take. Although I have to consult with my advisor and people first.” Allura said.
“It might not even come to that.” Lotor added. “Right now all I have is the word of a man who I don’t know if I even want to trust, let alone if I can! It might be simpler if the Drules really aren’t defecting…if all this was a lie to trick us into hesitating during the battles.”
“Simpler in one way, but no less complicated.” Allura murmured, then glanced at him. “Lotor? What will you then? After the war is over, and if you have no support from your people?”
He blinked, not having thought much beyond remaining at Allura’s side. “What can I do? If I have no backing, there is no way I can take the crown. What’s more, I’m not sure I want to try if the people overwhelmingly favor Zarkon. Besides…” He smiled then, the look half teasing. “I distinctly remember a certain princess offering to make me a home here on Arus.”
She grew flustered at that, but didn’t deny it. “You can stay on Arus for as long as you want. Though I wonder if you can be happy here…”
“As long as I am with you, I can be happy anywhere.” He was sincere as he made that proclamation, and it earned him another pink blush from Allura. “I don’t need much, just my mate and a roof over our heads. I have my own private fortunes, ones Zarkon won’t be able to touch. We can live off that…” She had lowered her gaze, and Lotor wondered if his words were seen as pushing her for something she wasn’t ready to face.
“Or we can continue just as we are. With trying things out to see where your feelings go.” It hurt him to say that, though he kept on smiling a bland smile. Lotor knew his whole life would be over if he couldn’t get Allura to love him and accept a life together with him.
“I like to try.” Allura said at last. “I have feelings for you, and I want to see where they lead us. Which means you need to stay on Arus so we can continue to get to know one another.”
He smiled at that. “It’s a deal.” She smiled back, the look shy as she went to stand up. She kept the blanket wrapped around her though, making an awkward cloak out of it. He wanted to ease the blanket off her, but was conscious that her frailer human body was more susceptible to the cold.
“I’m glad you came…” Allura at last said, giving in to the admittance he had been wanting earlier. “I don’t think I’d be able to sleep by myself tonight.” She reached for his hand, taking hold of it so their fingers laced together.
He smiled at her, and gave her a warm squeeze of his hand. “Pre battle jitters?” He asked, Lotor not deluded into thinking she was to the point she couldn’t sleep
without him by her side.
“Yes.” Allura nodded, her bangs falling into her eyes. He reached up to brush them back, and grazed his fingertips on her skin. She smiled at the touch, but looked troubled. “I can’t stop thinking about the people that are going to die tomorrow and in the days that follow.”
“It’s an ugly truth of war.” Lotor answered, and followed her when she led him towards her bed. “People must die so that others can live and be free.”
“I wish that wasn’t true…” She whispered, and let him sit her on his lap. He kept her pressed close against his chest, head tucked under his chin. They continued to hold hands, and Lotor used his free one to pet her hair.
“War is ugly, and there’s little good that comes out of it in the long run.” Lotor said, and she nodded. She then glanced up at him, a curious look in her eyes. “What?”
“Have you been in many wars Lotor?” Allura asked.
“More than I can remember.” He replied truthfully. That had her react in surprise, Allura staring up at him.
“I’m speaking to a war hardened veteran?”
“That just makes me sound old.” Lotor complained with a smile. “But…yes. I’ve seen and survived a fair share of battles.”
“I didn’t see any scars on you.” She pointed out, and he couldn’t resist teasing her.
“I wasn’t aware that you looked that closely.” He laughed then at her flustered state. “Allura, you were practically looking at the ceiling rather than at me when I had my shirt off that time!”
“I was nervous.” Allura said defensively. “I had never been around a half dressed man before.”
“But you’re not nervous now?” Lotor wanted to know. She just shrugged in response, which made him mischievous. “Do you want to look for my scars?”
“Lotor, what are you…?” She trailed off, Lotor having already wiggled out of the tight fitting shirt he had borrowed from the castle seamstress. To his delight, her blush deepened, Allura doing a quick sweep of her eyes over his chest before averting her gaze.
“It’s just my shirt Allura.” He was amused, pressing her against his bare chest now.
“But you’re halfway to being naked!” She pointed out, holding herself stiff against him.
“But I’m not.” Lotor said, and brought her hands to his chest. “Come…see for yourself if I have any scars…”
She didn’t turn to look at him, but at least she didn’t rebuff him entirely, keeping her warm hands pressed over his chest. Lotor couldn’t help but shiver in delight, realizing he was half starved for the chance to be touched by his mate. He watched her intently, studying her profile as she kept her eyes averted from him. It made him want to tease her, Lotor leaning in to affectionately nuzzle his lips against her ear.
“Reach around me…there should be a scar right under my hair, right between my shoulder blades.” She seemed to shiver at his husky whisper, Allura slowly twisting on his lap to slide her arms around him. He felt her fingertips tentatively touching his back, Allura feeling out the bumps of his spine. “That’s it…” He encouraged her. “Just a little higher…”
She gasped when she found it, her fingers rubbing along the scar. It was of a considerable size in length, faint in color but raised enough on the skin for her to feel it. That patch of scarred skin felt sensitive to the touch, Lotor trembling though he couldn’t tell if it was simply from her nearness, or the fact that it was his mate that was touching him.
“How did it happen?” Allura asked, trying to peer around him to stare at his back.
“It’s a few years old that scar of mine.” Lotor explained, liking that she was continuing to stroke her fingers across the scar. “One of my first wars, when I was still green when it came to battles.” He was trying not to purr, enjoying her touches and the way her covered breasts pressed into his chest. “We had successfully boarded an enemy flag ship, and were doing battle on the bridge. I foolishly left my guard open, and earned this for my carelessness.”
She had eased aside his hair, and was studying the scar. He felt her shudder, Lotor knowing the scar wasn’t the prettiest of sights. “It was a deep cut…” She noted, and he nodded.
“Yes…I’m lucky I didn’t die. I think perhaps I would have if I hadn’t been the crown prince. There was always others, either loyal or eager to impress, who would jump to my defense. They took care of my attacker, some low ranking soldier that brought with him the shame of falling to his sword. My father was most displeased, and had me increase my training. It was…brutal to say the least.”
“What for?” Lotor asked, easing Allura back so he could stare questioningly in her eyes. “You weren’t the one who attacked me.”
She shrugged. “It’s not a nice story. I wish that hadn’t happened to you. Any of it.”
“I believe there’s a reason for such a thing happening. It helped harden me into the warrior before you. Made me strong and capable to lead, and more importantly to survive long enough to meet you.” There was that blush again, but Lotor wouldn’t let her duck her head this time. He caught her by the back of the hair, keeping her head steady so that her eyes were level with his. “I can’t regret any of it, because it was all steps that brought me one step closer to finding you. Just think Allura, if Zarkon hadn’t wanted to invade Arus, we would have never met. I would have gone my whole life without knowing you existed. And to me, that would be the real tragedy.”
“I’m not sorry we met….although I wish it could have been under different circumstances.” Allura admitted.
“How would you have liked to have met me?” Lotor asked, curious.
“Maybe as a visiting prince…a potential ally for my planet…or a suitor seeking my hand.”
“Definitely a suitor for your hand.” Lotor decided, and leaned in to kiss her. “I’d have to have it, or go mad with grief.”
“Would you really?” Allura asked, pulling back from the kiss he tried to take. Her eyes were serious, the blue troubled at the thoughts he had stirred.
“Oh yes.” Lotor was just as serious as Allura, pushing the denied kiss to the back of his mind. “A Drule has to have his mate. He can’t live without her…he wouldn’t want too.”
“Does it ever happen?” Allura wanted to know. “A Drule being denied his mate?”
“Until I met you, I would have said only death could separate a Drule from their mate.” He couldn’t help but sigh, fingers absentmindedly playing with her hair. “I’ve seen what the death of one Drule’s mate does to the survivor. It is an ugly, gut wrenching sight to witness the despair that person is thrust into. They lose all meaning to live, and pretty much just wither away. You see Allura, a Drule can only love one person.”
“Yes.” He confirmed with a nod. “Once your mate is found, that is it for you. You won’t and can’t desire another….you’re faithful, devoted to your mate alone.”
She was quiet, just staring at him as she took in the meaning of what he was saying. Out of everything she could have said, he wasn’t expecting the following. “Lotor….were you a very…promiscuous man before meeting me?”
If it had been possible for his color to turn red, he would have blushed at that. As it was he was flustered, not sure he wanted to admit to Allura that he had been with a fair amount of women. He kept thinking about a mate’s jealousy, and trying to reassure himself that Allura would not attack him for his past. “There has been a woman or two in my past.” Lotor finally allowed, and saw Allura frown. “I’m not completely made of stone Allura! A man has his needs…”
“Needs….” She blinked rapidly, and then her face was turning a dark red. “I didn’t think you were a virgin.” She said at last. “You’re too good at…”
“At what?” He prodded when she fell silent.
“At seducing me.” She whispered that out, and Lotor laughed, delighted as he hugged her to him. She gave a soft squeal in protest, Lotor allowing himself to fall back against the mattress. With a roll he had their positions changed, Lotor on top of Allura, and grinning down at her. She gasped at first, and then was frowning, doing a wiggle that had her brushing up against him. He almost moaned in response, and ducked down to kiss at her throat.
“Lotor….” Her voice sounded strange, a half moan half protest as he began licking and biting at her skin. When he fastened his lips to the side of her neck, and began to suck fiercely on the skin there, she squeaked. “Lotor no! You’ll leave a mark!”
A possessive sounding growl was his answer, Lotor liking the thought of leaving his mark on his mate. He sucked more insistently, even as Allura placed her hands on his shoulders, and began trying to push him away. He had to fight impulse that told him to pin down her hands, hold her steady as he worked on darkening the skin into a loving bruise.
“Lotor!” Allura tried again, shoving harder.
“Mine…” He managed to mutter, licking at the spot he had been sucking on. This time when she pushed, he moved, rolling over onto his side, though he stayed facing her. He fixed her with a petulant look, and she frowned at him.
“You can’t just mark me!” Allura told him, looking like she wanted to wag her finger in his face. “Not where other people can see!”
He wanted to tell her she worried too much about others opinions, but instead seized upon the opportunity her words offered him. “Then I can mark you elsewhere?” He grinned, his eyes raking over her body, studying her chest and dropping lower to her thighs. He didn’t have to see her face to know she had blushed again, Allura letting out a squeak of protest when his fingers began trying to pull up her nightgown’s skirt.
“Lotor no…” Allura began, and her hands were on his face, drawing his attention up to hers. “That’s going too far…”
“I’d bear your marks with honor Allura.” He told her, touching the back of one of her hands. “Be they from your lips or your nails, as long as they were marks to show how pleased you are with me.” She seemed speechless in the moment, Lotor grinning. “I still have the ring you gave me. Is it too much to hope for that it is a sign of your favor?”
She started to nod, Allura smiling at him. The smile died down as they hard the screams, Allura lurching upright, the blanket falling from her shoulders as she gasped. Lotor was also sitting upright, eyes narrowed as he listened for more screams. Seconds later he was rewarded, and with a shared look at Allura, he was jumping out of bed, a single name issued out of his mouth. “Romelle!”